Comparing Sex Buyers With Men Who Do Not Buy Sex: New Data on Prostitution and Trafficking

J Interpers Violence. 2017 Dec;32(23):3601-3625. doi: 10.1177/0886260515600874. Epub 2015 Aug 31.


We investigated attitudes and behaviors associated with prostitution and sexual aggression among 101 men who buy sex and 101 age-, education-, and ethnicity-matched men who did not buy sex. Both groups tended to accept rape myths, be aware of harms of prostitution and trafficking, express ambivalence about the nature of prostitution, and believe that jail time and public exposure are the most effective deterrents to buying sex. Sex buyers were more likely than men who did not buy sex to report sexual aggression and likelihood to rape. Men who bought sex scored higher on measures of impersonal sex and hostile masculinity and had less empathy for prostituted women, viewing them as intrinsically different from other women. When compared with non-sex-buyers, these findings indicate that men who buy sex share certain key characteristics with men at risk of committing sexual aggression as documented by research based on the leading scientific model of the characteristics of non-criminal sexually aggressive men, the Confluence Model of sexual aggression.

Keywords: confluence model; demand; hostile masculinity; impersonal sex; prostitution; rape; rape myths; sex buyers; sexual aggression; trafficking; violence against women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Attitude
  • Empathy*
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Men / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult